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Iran manufactures laser-guided artillery shells, state TV reports

Iran said on Monday it had manufactured laser-guided artillery shells that were capable of spotting and hitting moving targets with a high degree of precision, state-run television reported.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Iran said on Monday it had manufactured laser-guided artillery shells that were capable of spotting and hitting moving targets with a high degree of precision, state-run television reported.

Iran does periodically unveil military advancements, but this latest report comes as tension between Iran and the West escalates over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi hailed what he described as "intelligent munitions" as a new chapter in the country's weapons and military equipment.

"Besides America and Russia, there are only three other countries which have this technology," Vahidi was quoted as saying during the unveiling ceremony.

State television also showed footage of the shell, called Basir (insightful), being fired by an artillery piece. No more details were given in the report. 

Also Monday, Iran's top diplomat offered to extend the current visit of U.N. nuclear inspectors and expressed optimism their findings would help ease tensions despite international claims that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

The comments by Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, reported by Iran's official news agency, underscored efforts to display cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency team and downplay the expectations of a confrontation atmosphere during the three-day visit that began Sunday.

The IAEA mission is the first to Iran since a report in November that suggested some of the Islamic Republic's alleged experiments — cited in intelligence documents — can have no other purpose than developing nuclear weapons. The current inspection team includes two senior weapons experts, hinting that Iran may be prepared to discuss specific points on the claims it seeks to develop warheads after three years of rebuffing U.N. calls for answers.

Salehi, attending an African summit in Ethiopia, repeated remarks that he was "optimistic about the results of the visit" without offering more details. He also told Turkish state television that the U.N. mission could be "extended if necessary," according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The findings from the visit could greatly influence Western efforts to expand economic pressures on Iran over its uranium enrichment — which Washington and allies fear could eventually produce weapons-grade material. Iran has declined to abandon its enrichment labs, but claims it seeks to fuel reactors only for energy and medical research.